The who, what, when and why of a home inspection

Kristi Bailey 2020 NETAR President

Homeowners who want to sell must give buyers a disclosure of the property’s known defects. Unless the buyer agrees to buy the property “as is,” one of the steps is a home inspection. Inspections can be a buyer’s best friend and a seller’s worst nightmare.

Many buyers make their offer contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection. The buyers pay for the review since they are the beneficiaries of the service. A seller may use a pre-inspection report as an incentive for buyers trying to keep their costs down.

Inspectors will be familiar with the local building code, but the home inspection is not a code check. Its goal is to evaluate and describe the physical condition of the home at the time of the assessment. A list of what may need repaired,  replaced, or further examined should be included.  The buyer and seller then negotiate items as agreed to in their contract.

Here’s a basic checklist of best practices for hiring a home inspector.

  • Check their license status. Tennessee’s Home Inspector Licensing Program was enacted in 2005 to ensure that only qualified persons are licensed home inspectors and that those inspectors extend a professional and educated opinion on the condition of the homes they inspect.
  • Are they certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors?
  • How long have they been an inspector, and the number of inspections they do is also a consideration?
  • What do they charge? Costs usually range from $250 to $500 depending on the location, type and size property, and the scope of the inspection. Some buyers get several cost estimates before hiring an inspector.
  • Ask for references, including some previous customers, and talk to them.
  • Discuss in advance how long you will have to wait for the report after the inspection is completed and how you will receive it.
  • Be sure to read your inspector’s agreement to see what is included.

The inspection itself usually takes a couple of hours, but may take longer for a larger home.  It is a pretty thorough process that relies on standards set by the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and the State Standards for Tennessee Home Inspectors Licensing Program. It is not a pass or fail process.

Finally, while you should expect a checklist of the weak points turned up during the inspection and options you may have to resolve the issues, it is not unheard of to see it include some of the property’s strong points. Do your homework before you get to the closing table. This information helps you to be an informed consumer and understand what you are buying because there is no such thing as the perfect house, and it may save you money and heartache in the end.

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at